CHICAGO (WLS) — Parishioners at Wicker Park Lutheran Church have been planting hundreds of small Pride flags.
“I usually come to church on Sundays, and today was especially important, just to show everybody that we’re still here, and we still stand for what we stand for,” said church member Caroline Magnesen.
Church-goers have been decorating the exterior of the church and doubling down on their commitment to inclusivity after undergoing months-long vandalism.
“Let the whole community know that the acts of hate that have been happening here over the past few months can’t stop us sharing the love of God and general love with all of our neighbors,” said Pastor Jason Glombicki.
Five times over the past three months, Glombicki said, vandals have been tearing down and stealing their Pride flags that hang outside the church.
Surveillance cameras caught the culprit in a few of the incidents. Each time, a male jogger runs up, hops a small barrier just out of frame, and then runs away with one, sometimes two of the rainbow flags.
The latest incident happened on Thursday.
“A gentleman came by and started talking to us, and said, ‘You guys are putting up the wrong flag.’ And we still, ‘Oh, no, no. We are showing love.’ And he’s like, ‘You guys are just pathetic,’” Glombicki said.
The church has been publicly supporting people of all sexual orientations and gender identities since 2006.
Alone remaining flag is now forced to be strapped behind a protective metal gate.
“You wish that you could just have a conversation with somebody and get to understand them better, where they are coming from, so that they could understand us as well and what our message is all about love. So, it’s definitely discouraging,” Magnesen said.
The pastor said despite these incidents, it will never stop them from spreading their message of unity.
“We are going to be here, we are going to be sharing the love for all and acceptance for all and inclusion and that’s really what it’s all about,” Glombicki said.
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